According to the most recent National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports, nearly 7 million motor vehicle crashes are reported to police in the United States each year. By way of comparison, this number is higher than the total number of arrests each year in the U.S. for murder, robbery, theft, arson, fraud, vandalism, drug abuse, gambling, embezzlement, and prostitution combined. Chances are, you will be involved in a car accident in your lifetime. In fact, statistics show that most people are involved in a vehicle crash multiple times during their life, roughly once every 18 years.
If you’ve never been involved in a collision before, it’s good to familiarize yourself with what to expect after a car accident. And even if you have been in a vehicle crash of some kind in the past, you may have questions that would best be discussed with an attorney with experience in car accident law. Every car accident case is unique, and our legal team at Belsky & Horowitz, LLC is available to answer any questions you have regarding the specifics of your car accident case.
In this article, we will provide information about what you can expect at the scene of a car accident, what physical and emotional changes you can expect after a crash, and what you can expect when working with your auto insurance company and car accident attorney in the aftermath of a motor vehicle crash.
What to Expect at the Scene of the Accident
You can expect to feel confused, agitated, and disoriented at the scene of an accident—that’s a natural human reaction to a traumatic experience like a car crash. While you may feel like your emotions are out of control, try in any way that works for you to calm and steady your emotions. Whether your method is deep breathing or calling a loved one, take a moment to steady yourself. There are tasks you will need to complete immediately following the crash.
Firstly, health and safety should take priority. Check yourself for injuries and make sure the other party and any passengers or pedestrians are safe as well. Allow yourself to be checked for injuries by EMTs and other emergency personnel. If the police and emergency medical services have not yet arrived, call your local police station or dial 911.
Secondly, if you are involved in a collision with at least one other vehicle, you will need to communicate with the other driver, and be aware of what information needs to be exchanged after a vehicle wreck. According to Maryland traffic laws, you will need to exchange with the other party information including:
- Contact information
- Driver’s license numbers
- Insurance company information
- Insurance policy numbers
Finally, it is important to document information about the crash in the moments following the event—before clean-up, weather, and other factors erase evidence. This evidence is essential to your car accident claim, providing proof of who is at fault and what damage resulted from the wreck. This information is needed for insurance claims and even more so for legal claims. As much as possible, try to:
- Obtain a copy of the police report written by the officer at the scene of the crash
- Take the name and badge number of any officer at the scene
- Save the information of the other driver involved in the crash
- Document the exact time, date, and location of the accident
- Take pictures of the scene, including weather, lighting, and road conditions
- Take pictures of the damage done to vehicles, roadways, and surrounding areas or buildings
- Take as many pictures (and videos) as possible to show every detail
- Write down the name and contact information of any eyewitness willing to give a statement
What to Expect Physically After a Car Accident
It’s a common concern to wonder what happens to your body after a car accident. Crash victims need to know what is normal to feel after a car accident and what things to look for that might indicate a serious injury. You can anticipate some slight discomfort following a collision—mild headaches and body aches, slight bruising, and soreness that disappears within a few days are to be expected. Even if you were cleared by an EMT at the scene of the crash, it’s best to schedule an appointment with your doctor for a complete check-up after the accident.
While you are recovering from accident-related trauma, there are some symptoms to watch for after a car accident. These symptoms may mean that there is a more serious condition that needs to be addressed. Be on the alert for any changing or worsening symptoms, even several days or weeks after the crash. If you experience any of the following signs of physical distress, reach out to a medical professional immediately:
- Numbness or tingling that could indicate nerve damage
- Abdominal swelling or bruising that could indicate internal bleeding
- Sprains or twists that are not healing—soft tissue injuries can become chronic if left untreated
- Intense chronic headaches
- Worsening head or neck pain after a whiplash diagnosis
- Dizziness, confusion, nausea, vision disturbances, or loss of balance
- Lethargy, inability to focus, and behavioral changes
The last four symptoms can indicate a traumatic brain injury (TBI), which needs to be handled immediately by an experienced physician. Do not hesitate to seek medical attention if you think something is not right after a car accident. These signs can warn of serious head trauma.
What to Expect During Emotional Recovery
Although it’s right to focus on your physical recovery following an auto collision, some people forget that emotional healing is also an integral part of the recovery process. You should never feel wrong or guilty for needing time to recover emotionally after trauma. Many people require weeks or months to overcome some of the serious psychological effects of a car accident. It is not uncommon to suffer any of the below-listed conditions after a vehicle crash:
- Flashbacks of the event
- Fear of driving or riding in cars
- Anxiety, depression, or guilt about your involvement in the accident
- Nightmares and trouble sleeping
- Loss of appetite
- Inability to focus
- Loss of enjoyment of the things you previously enjoyed
- Suicidal thoughts or thoughts of self-harm
- Abuse of drugs or alcohol
- Lethargy and lack of energy or interest
- Withdrawal from relationships and social activities
If any of these symptoms describe the way you or someone you know is feeling following a traumatic event like a car crash, please reach out to mental health professional as soon as possible.
What to Expect When Filing an Auto Insurance Claim
An auto insurance claim is a request for compensation you make with your insurance company in accordance with your car insurance policy. After an accident, you may find that you need to file an insurance claim with your company. There are steps you can take to smoothly file a claim, although complications can arise if the company is not easy to work with—or takes measures to attempt to hinder the compensation process. Be sure to speak with your car accident lawyer immediately if that seems to be the case.
In Maryland, you are legally required to have the following forms of coverage: bodily injury liability coverage, property damage liability coverage, uninsured motorist bodily injury coverage, uninsured motorist property damage coverage, and personal injury protection. Make sure you have a good understanding of your insurance policy and your deductible. In most situations, the claim filing process will go something like this:
- Contact your insurance company as soon as possible to notify them of the accident
- Gather all documents about crash details to prepare to submit to your insurance company
- Be aware of any deadlines that apply to your claim filing process
- Submit all the documents your company requires
- Speak to your insurance agent about how to acquire a rental car if needed
- Keep in touch with the company and be aware of the progress to make sure everything is completed
- Get in touch with your lawyer if a problem arises
What to Expect When Working with a Car Accident Lawyer
There are many reasons why you should call a lawyer immediately following a car crash. If you were injured because of the negligence or wrongdoing of another driver, you may find that it is best to take legal action against the party who injured you. This may be the case if the other driver was impaired or under the influence, was texting and driving or driving distracted, or if you were involved in a hit and run accident. You and your lawyer may even need to work together to hold another entity accountable for crashes that resulted from poorly-maintained roads.
Regardless of your reason for choosing to hire a car accident attorney following a crash, you can expect that your legal representative will be communicative, open, and honest with you from the beginning regarding the strengths and weaknesses of your case. You attorney should also be detail-focused, precise, and willing to think creatively to make sure that enough evidence is gathered to support your claim. Achieving a successful outcome after you have been injured through the fault of another party is not an easy task, but you should expect that your lawyer has the skills and experience to accomplish it.
We take every car accident case we accept very seriously. We understand what you should expect when working with a lawyer, and we strive to live up to and exceed those expectations. We invite you to reach out to our team of legal experts at Belsky & Horowitz, LLC. We offer free consultations to discuss your case details. We are ready and available to answer your questions in Baltimore, Maryland and the surrounding areas.
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